Saint Lucy of Syracuse, also known as Saint Lucia, Santa Lucia, or Saint Lukia, (traditional dates 283-304) was a rich young Christian martyr who is venerated as a Saint by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Her feast day in the West is December 13, by the unreformed Julian calendar the longest night of the year; she is the patron saint of blindness. Lucy is one of the very few saints celebrated by the Lutheran Swedes, Finland-Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians, in celebrations that retain many indigenous Germanic pagan pre-Christian midwinter light festivals. She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.
Her actae tell that Lucy (whose name means "light") was a Christian while Diocletian was persecuting and martyring Christians. She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse. Miraculously unable to move her or burn her, the guards stabbed her and killed her.
Lucy means "light", with the same Latin root, lux, as "lucid," which means "clear, radiant, understandable." Ironically, St Lucy's history is shrouded in darkness: all that is really known for certain is that she was a martyr in Syracuse in Diocletian's persecutions of A.D. 304. Her veneration spread to Rome, so that by the 6th century the whole Church recognized her courage in defense of the faith.
Because people wanted to shed light on Lucy's bravery, legends grew up, reported in the acta that are associated with her name. All the details are conventional ones also associated with other female martyrs of the early 4th century. Her Roman father died when she was young, leaving her and her mother without a protecting guardian. Her mother, Eutychia, had suffered four years with a "bloody flux" but Lucy having heard the renown of Saint Agatha the patroness of Catania, "and when they were at a Mass, one read a gospel which made mention of a woman which was healed of the bloody flux by touching of the hem of the coat of Jesus Christ," which, according to Legenda Aurea, convinced her mother to pray together at Saint Agatha's tomb. They stayed up all night praying, until they fell asleep, exhausted. Saint Agatha appeared in a vision to Lucy and said, "Soon you shall be the glory of Syracuse, as I am of Catania." At that instant Eutychia was cured.
Eutychia had arranged a marriage for Lucy with a pagan bridegroom, but Lucy urged that the dowry be spent on alms so that she might retain her virginity. Euthychia suggested that the sums would make a good bequest, but Lucy countered, "...whatever you give away at death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you. Give now to the true Savior, while you are healthy, whatever you intended to give away at your death." News that the patrimony and jewels were being distributed came to the ears of Lucy's betrothed, who heard from a chattering nurse that Lucy had found a nobler Bridegroom.
Her rejected pagan bridegroom denounced Lucy as a Christian to the magistrate Paschasius, who ordered her to burn a sacrifice to the Emperor's image.
The Christian tradition states that when the guards came to take her away they found her so filled with the Holy Spirit that she was stiff and heavy as a mountain; they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. Even with a dagger through her throat she prophesied against her persecutor. As final torture, her eyes were gouged out. She was miraculously still able to see without her eyes.
Attributes: cord; eyes; eyes on a dish; lamp; swords; woman hitched to a yoke of oxen; woman in the company of Saint Agatha, Saint Agnes of Rome, Barbara, Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Thecla; woman kneeling before the tomb of Saint Agatha
Prayer: Relying on Your goodness, O God, we humbly ask You, through the intercession of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that they may serve for Your greater honor and glory. Saint Lucy, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions. Amen.